On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Transportation rejected a request by livestock and agriculture groups for an exemption to federal driving time regulations that many in farm county say would provide necessary flexibility during certain times of the year.  In it’s rejection, DOT stated that “Research studies demonstrate that long work hours reduce sleep and harm driver health, and that crash risk increases with work hours.  The HOS regulations impose limits on when and how long an individual may drive, to ensure that drivers stay awake and alert, and to reduce the possibility of cumulative fatigue.”


Dan Newhouse, chair of the Western Caucus, expressed his disappointment:


“This decision by the Department of Transportation does not take into account recommendations from farmers and ranchers who work hard to safely transport livestock and other agricultural goods across the country. It will also cause undue harm and leave these animals susceptible to heat, cold, and other extreme conditions.  With unprecedented supply chain disruptions, a looming threat of a rail shutdown, and a truck driver shortage facing communities across the country, now is not the time to be placing additional stressors on this industry.  DOT should reverse this decision and continue working to meet the unique needs of livestock transportation.”


In 2019, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Livestock Marketing Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Beekeeping Federation, American Honey Producers Association, and National Aquaculture Association submitted an application to the U.S. Department of Transportation to allow for an exemption to hours-of-service for drivers transporting livestock, insects, and aquatic animals. 


“We are disappointed in FMCSA’s decision, especially when the cattle and beef supply chain faces continued stress from driver shortages and a potential rail strike,” said Kent Bacus, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Executive Director of Government Affairs.  “Hauling cattle is very different from hauling consumer goods, which is why NCBA will continue urging Congressional leaders to support expanded hours-of-service flexibility for livestock haulers so they can continue making their critical deliveries.”


“Flexibility in hours-of-service is the best policy for sheep health and well-being,” said Peter Orwick, Executive Director of the American Sheep Industry Association. “ASI will continue to support such with Congress.”


“We are disappointed FMCSA denied the request without more seriously considering or addressing the proposed safety measures industry brought forward,” said Jara Settles, General Counsel & VP of Risk Management for the Livestock Marketing Association. “Livestock haulers have an excellent safety record and our drivers haul a very unique cargo. The Livestock Marketing Association and the groups we work with will continue to seek commonsense flexibilities for these special drivers to make sure livestock get where they need to go in a safe and responsible manner while meeting the ever-growing needs of the American food supply."


Click Here to read the DOT's decision.


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